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LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Match v Cardiff City
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                                       CARDIFF CITY........0 LEEDS UNITED.......0
                                                                Leeds United badge
 

Pre-match

As expected, Kevin Blackwell named an unchanged side for the third game running with the recently formed front pairing of Brian Deane and Brett Ormerod looking to break their goalscoring duck.

United's mean defence has only conceded one goal in the past four games and the main threat to that record will be Cardiff's Peter Thorne who has scored three goals in the past four games.

The Match

The game kicked-off with both sets of supporters barracking each other to create an atmosphere that was certainly more hostile than Leeds have experienced anywhere else on their travels this season.

The opening few minutes on the pitch were without incident, a few free-kicks against Leeds but neither keeper had been called into action.

On 11 minutes a Chris Barker cross was deflected behind by Clarke Carlisle, but there were deafening calls for handball against the defender who had conceded a penalty against Crewe for that offence a fortnight ago. This time he survived and so did Leeds as they dealt comfortably with the corner kick.

A tense atmosphere at Ninian Park became even more charged when the game saw its first yellow card after only quarter of an hour of play. England under-21 captain Gary O'Neill had his ankle tapped by Sean Gregan as he tried to go through on goal and United's new recruit found himself in referee Phil Crossley's notebook.

Five minutes later and the crowd were off their seats again as a penalty was awarded against Stephen Crainey after he was judged to have brought down Jobi McAnuff just inside the area.  The Leeds players protested heavily against the decision but they were to escape thanks to the brilliance of keeper Neil Sullivan.

Former Middlesbrough striker Andy Campbell stepped up to take the spot-kick but his poor penalty was saved by Sullivan's legs and the loose ball hacked behind to safety.  It was the Scottish international's second penalty save of the season for United. 
 
Just before the half hour mark Jermaine Wright was booked for dissent and the free-kick was brought forward ten yards, but it made little difference for Cardiff as they blasted the ball high and wide.

Leeds then created their first real opening of the afternoon and would have taken the lead but for a late intervention. Wright's cross was met with a firm header in the centre of the area by Clarke Carlisle but the defender was denied his second goal of the season when it was cleared off the line by the Bluebirds loan signing Darren Williams.

It was an excellent chance right in front of the visiting Leeds fans and offered a clue as to where United might find some reward in front of goal this afternoon.

With the scores still deadlocked at half-time, Leeds were in the same position they were in at Sheffield United when similarly they had been hardly troubled in the first half, yet on that afternoon they failed to perform in the second and Blackwell would have been out to make sure the same did not occur here.

Shortly after the restart Leeds passed up a chance to take the lead.  Crainey played a ball forward that enabled Wright to go forward down the left, he crossed it into the centre where Ormerod came in unmarked but sliced the ball well wide of the target after snatching at the shot. It was another good chance gone begging.

The homeside threatened early on too when Parry turned inside the area and shot, but the effort was blocked by Carlisle and the same man then blasted the ball just over Sullivan's goal.  McAnuff then hit a shot well wide after breaking through

Kevin Blackwell made changes just after the hour mark, first bringing on Julian Joachim for Frazer Richardson and then, two minutes later, bringing on Michael Ricketts in place of Deane.

Whilst the changes gave Leeds fresh attacking impetus, it was at the back where attention was needed when slack defending saw Cardiff carve open the game's best chance. Parry hit a low shot from distance into the penalty area and it was flicked goalwards by Campbell but this time the woodwork rescued Leeds.   It had been a terrible miss for the Cardiff striker and a real let-off for the Whites.

The last ten minutes saw United survive a number of very close scares as the home side turned up the heat a little and gave the defence a severe examination.

First substitute Cameron Jerome had a header tipped onto the underside of the bar by Sullivan and then McAnuff took a pot-shot from distance and hit the bar. Sullivan was forced to spread himself wide to keep out the loose ball, but there was no denying that Leeds were indebted to the woodwork for saving them a point.

Leeds had survived the stiffest of challenges with a little bit of luck and of the eleven league games played so far this season, they've kept six clean sheets.  A statistic that proves United are building from the back as they plot their recovery.

Cardiff City

Starting XI

1Warner, Tony

21Vidmar, Tony

6Gabbidon, Daniel

24Williams, Darren

16Barker, Chris

25McAnuff, Jobi

12Boland, Willie

26O`Neil, Gary

19Parry, Paul

9Campbell, Andy

11Thorne, Peter

Substitutes

7Robinson, John

17Collins, James

18Bullock, Lee

23Alexander, Neil

35Jerome, Cameron

Leeds United

Starting XI

1Sullivan, Neil

2Kelly, Gary

4Carlisle, Clarke

6Butler, Paul

3Crainey, Stephen

15Richardson, Frazer

7Wright, Jermaine

8Gregan, Sean

12Pugh, Danny

9Ormerod, Brett

30Deane, Brian

Substitutes

13Carson, Scott

10Ricketts, Michael

11Joachim, Julian

17Spring, Matthew

22Duberry, Michael 

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